As I was looking through SOFREP’s “Coalition SOF” articles, I noticed there weren’t any stories about Afghan SOF. Even if you think the phrase “Afghan SOF” is an oxymoron (which I think it is), there is still value in reporting our assessments and experiences working with them.

My experience with Afghan SOF involved training and operating with Commandos and their Special Forces.

If I were to draw comparisons to the US military, for ease of reference, I would compare the ANASF to our Special Forces and the Commandos to our Rangers. The ANASF are organized in small teams, with staffing identical to our ODAs. The Commandos are garrisoned by battalion- or Kandak- with three to four companies each. As USSOF in Afghanistan, teams assigned to conduct village stability ops (VSO) are often paired with an ANASF team, plus additional conventional units like ANA, AUP or the dreaded “green on blue” poster children: the ALP. Those USSOF teams not saddled with the burden of VSO, are typically partnered with a Kandak. These Commando teams are usually required to take  Afghan Commandos out on missions.

The Commandos (CDOs)

To the best of my knowledge, there are nine Commando Kandaks. I have experience with four Commando Kandaks and its my observation that the strength, efficiency and performance of these Kandaks vary greatly. I’ve operated with a Kandak that was capable of conducting their own successful unilateral patrols. And I’ve been exposed to others that were understaffed, combat ineffective and incapable of even conducting missions alongside their American counterparts.